The Future of Web Browsers

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Last week, I attended the Mesh Conference with a few of my colleagues. Mesh is billed as Canada’s Web Conference and CIRA has been a proud sponsor for two years in a row now.

Aside for the usual conference goodies (interesting swag, some valuable takeaways, interesting sessions, and great networking), there was a workshop that stood out from the rest in terms of meaning for the domain registry business.  It was a presentation by Aza Raskin (@azaaza) on the future of Web-browsing at a related event called MeshU. Raskin is the Creative Lead of Firefox at Mozilla, the most popular browser in the world.

According to Raskin, the way we browse the Web is going to change dramatically in the next three to five years. Raskin spoke in terms of Web browsers becoming “you-centric.”  What does this mean?

To surf the Web, you login to your browser – your browser knows all of your passwords, knows your contacts, and even knows how you like to interact with those contacts (Facebook vs. email vs. Twitter, and so on). With all of this information, your browser becomes your online identity, your Sherpa, your personal shopper, and even your security advisor. Forget about remembering your passwords, your browser stores them. Looking for a new vacuum? Your browser knows what your friends purchased and will recommend it for you. Want to find a great source for local news? Your browser knows what your contacts read (and, with location-based technology, knows where you are), and will take you there. In essence, the Web now revolves around you. It’s your Web.

Putting aside privacy and security issues for the time being (a topic that warrants its own post), there’s something really interesting going on here. Technology is getting to be more intuitive. As that happens more and more, the Web truly becomes a public space, not a communications medium. It’s a place where people interact, not just on social media platforms, but through day-to-day Web-browsing. Until very recently, we’ve considered the Web a medium for information exchange. No longer – it’s a place where we interact with each other.

It may also signify some changes that will affect the domain name registry business. I can see the future of this radically altering the way we surf the Internet. Instead of finding http://www.cira.ca, our browser will take us to that .CA registry that hopefully all of our friends are members of. If one of our unique selling points as the registry for .CA domain names extensions is the ‘Canadian-ness’ of .CA, what happens to that unique selling point when the likelihood that you’ll type in the website address is greatly reduced?

I look forward to this new generation of intuitive Web browsers. It will certainly enhance our online lives. At the same time, however, it is something that we, as a registry, and the privacy folks need to stay on top of.

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  • http://www.youintegrate.com Kneale Mann

    Clearly companies that are grasping user experience past the buzz and hype are getting close to what we want. We are they and they are we. We all reside on both sides of the counter and the world is our marketplace.

    This is where “mainstream” media are grappling most. Radio, television, print and outdoor/transit are still creating one-way conversations and content. They are static in their presentation while users (aka everyone) want robust customized solutions and experiences. Print is expanding with readers and audio options, television is slowly embracing the web (slowly!), radio needs to look at ways to present a more customized product and outdoor/transit creative is evolving as well.

    With almost two billion people online, spaces like Facebook with over 500 million users and websites such as CNN getting more than 20 million unique visits a month, we are all searching for our own creative spaces to navigate the overwhelming amount of ever growing content.

    The challenge remains when we are content suppliers.

    The “market” is flooded and will only continue. All the while, companies that create intuitive browsers will continue to need to evolve. And when we are browsing on our laptops, our mobile devices and in the audio-only form our vehicles, we will need to trust some personal information to some place in the cloud in order to save time as we navigate.

    Above interface and design, companies need to build, prove and keep trust or they will be out of business before they can figure out what went wrong.

    I am in the midst of testing several browsers (Explorer has fallen behind, in my opinion). Firefox and Chrome are currently leading the rest from my experience.

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